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    Thread: how to deal with sexual harassment issue

    1. Member GTiTOM's Avatar
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      03-28-2012 04:19 PM #1
      I have a female friend (we don't work at the same company). She's young (25?) and extremely attractive. She confided in me the other day that her boss is a creepy old man (say, 50ish) and has been increasingly inappropriate with her.

      Some of the examples:

      - he requested that she be transferred to his dept so she has to report to him (at the time, she took it as a compliment for her work)
      - he walks up behind her and gives her shoulder rubs
      - he twirls her hair and rubs her head and tells her how hot she is when he comes to talk to her at her desk
      - he got her personal phone # and texts her after work hours
      - he told her that she's lost weight, and that she's definitely ready for bikini season
      - all sorts of other inappropriate comments about her body, her looks, sexual activity, having an affair, etc, etc, etc.

      She said she doesn't want to go to HR because he's very high up in the org, and without any hard evidence (nothing happens in front of anyone else), she fears it will just be his word against hers and since he's been at the company so long and has such a stellar rep, that he'll just say he was being nice to her and she misinterpreted it. She figures if that happens, he'll make her work life hell, and at the moment it's pretty flexible --- own hours, lots of OT, work from home, etc. She needs the job and doesn't want to be a martyr. I told her this probably isn't the first time it's happened with this guy and that there's probably an HR file on him, but I think her fears are somewhat realistic.

      I told her to record every time something happens until she decides if she wants to do anything about it (or if he decides to fire her b/c she won't sleep with him). That way, she'd at least have some record. I also offered the name of an employment lawyer friend, but she doesn't see how that would do anything besides lead to a he-said she-said situation at a higher level.

      She just told me she found out he's being deployed (Reserves?) at the end of April, so she's basically just planning on putting up with him for a month and then taking the next year or so to find a job. From a practical point of view, I guess that seems like a reasonable course of action.

      However, I just don't think it's right. A guy like that shouldn't be able to just get away with acting like that.

      Any thoughts on the best advice to provide her?

    2. Member BetterByDesign's Avatar
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      03-28-2012 04:46 PM #2
      I have had some experience with HR. This is my advice and real lessons learned:

      - HR is not there to help you. They are there to protect the interests of the company. Do not go to HR for help. If you think they are going to fire or discipline someone based on your word, you are wrong.
      - Record everything. Literally keep a log of what has happened. The mere fact that you are organized and meticulous about this will help your case by not leaving or presenting anything based on memory. Inappropriate texts are literally like getting yourself fired. When I say record, I would not exclude use of a voice recorder.
      - Seek counselling. Most employers have some kind of assistance/counselling program. Aside from the direct benefit, it also is a record that you called if required as evidence later on. If she needs medication to deal with this like anti anxiety/depression etc. - same reasons.
      - She needs to state at some point to him what he is doing is inappropriate / making her feel uncomfortable. No need to reject him, but clearly state she is not comfortable. How about texting him back?
      - He has probably done this before. Are there other women in the the office she can discuss this with? It's makes a very strong case when others are willing to step with and you all have your ducks in row. (I would be very careful about this one)
      - Whatever happens: She has to be prepared to leave the company; whether he gets fired/disciplined; she gets fired/disciplined, whether she gets a settlement or nothing happens at all.

      Yeah. It's sad and its wrong. Best thing to do is move on and look forward to working with professional people again.
      Last edited by BetterByDesign; 03-28-2012 at 04:54 PM.

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      03-29-2012 02:27 PM #3
      Hi, corporate recruiting manager checking in. I'm going to go through this section by section with my input:

      Quote Originally Posted by BetterByDesign View Post
      - HR is not there to help you. They are there to protect the interests of the company. Do not go to HR for help. If you think they are going to fire or discipline someone based on your word, you are wrong.
      HR's primary repsonsibility is to help increase shareholder value or profit. They do that in a number of ways--one of the most signficant is to keep the company safe. Any real HR professional will take her comments VERY seriously--because she has an extremely actionable legal case against this individual AND the company. Especially if there were to be evidence that she did go to HR and they didn't investigate/take action/she were to be somehow punished for her actions.

      Quote Originally Posted by BetterByDesign View Post
      - Record everything. Literally keep a log of what has happened. The mere fact that you are organized and meticulous about this will help your case by not leaving or presenting anything based on memory. Inappropriate texts are literally like getting yourself fired. When I say record, I would not exclude use of a voice recorder.
      I agree that she should document every incident. Ensure that she keeps emails/texts that are whatsoever suggestive. Keep a log on her home computer/mobile device that documents the date/time and circumstances of every in-person incident.


      Quote Originally Posted by BetterByDesign View Post
      - She needs to state at some point to him what he is doing is inappropriate / making her feel uncomfortable. No need to reject him, but clearly state she is not comfortable. How about texting him back?
      Agree that she should alert him that she thinks his behaviour is inappropriate and steer the conversation back to a work topic. May have gone beyond the point where she would feel comfortable doing so, though.

      Quote Originally Posted by BetterByDesign View Post
      - He has probably done this before. Are there other women in the the office she can discuss this with? It's makes a very strong case when others are willing to step with and you all have your ducks in row. (I would be very careful about this one)
      I don't recommend this.

      Quote Originally Posted by BetterByDesign View Post
      - Whatever happens: She has to be prepared to leave the company; whether he gets fired/disciplined; she gets fired/disciplined, whether she gets a settlement or nothing happens at all.
      I don't necessarily think that's required. However, there is a chance that he will go to counseling or some similar action that will not result in dismissal--and even if she no longer reports to him, she'll still have to work there with him. Up to her to make a call at that point if she'd be comfortable in that scenario.

    4. Member tjm0852's Avatar
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      03-29-2012 02:41 PM #4
      1)All she would have to say to HR is that he is creating a "hostile work environment", she does not want to divulge specific behaviors at this time and not reveal her identity in the course of their conversation with him.

      Whether or not HR keeps it anonymous is another story. And if she is the only women that his guy could be harrassing it would not matter anyway.

      2)Or she could just f*ck him.

      Either way

    5. Member BetterByDesign's Avatar
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      03-31-2012 01:03 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by Numbersix View Post
      I don't necessarily think that's required. However, there is a chance that he will go to counseling or some similar action that will not result in dismissal--and even if she no longer reports to him, she'll still have to work there with him. Up to her to make a call at that point if she'd be comfortable in that scenario.
      What I meant was that people need to mentally prepare that in the end, no matter what the outcome it may be better for the company and persons involved to part ways. Regardless of outcome the stupidity of some situations leaves the workplace tainted, poisoned and at minimum a distraction.

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      04-02-2012 05:59 PM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by GTiTOM View Post
      I have a female friend (we don't work at the same company). She's young (25?) and extremely attractive.
      Rule #1 violation!!! Pictures man, PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      I have a friend that has won several, harassment cases.

      A favorite technique seems to be moving conversations to company email servers and taking screenshots of text messages. Apparently once these guys are thinking with the little head, they stop using logic and they say some pretty crazy stuff on email. She forwards to her address AND prints from the company printer each week. That way, she's sure to get a tighter case (or significantly more money) when the judge finds out the company tried to hide the email messages by deleting them.

      It's also helpful to have everything time documented (like on Outlook) so in 8months, when the judge asks what happened on the 22nd of march, all she has to do is flip through her calendar and read what she wrote.


      Numbersix has some great insight, but he forgot the most important suggestion; she should assume that she can't trust that people will do what they say or that people will actually help her. Document everything about everybody. My friend that won a case recently had a near airtight case not just because of all the emails she had with a manager, but she kept ALL the emails from the HR manager. It ended up being some of the personal & innocent banter from the HR manager that won the case.

    7. 04-04-2012 04:22 PM #7
      How about a simple approach. Tell her to put a picture of a very big guy on her desk and then tell her boss that this is the love of her life and he is very protective. Then on lunch time, tell her to call her "girlfriend" who is in on the gag and protend like she's talking to her boyfriend. She should have random conversations on the phone with people who know the situation and each time she needs to make it out that it's her boyfriend.

      If she has an active boyfriend, the harrassment is more likely to stop.

      If you're in California, I have no problem going by her work and pretending to be an over protective boyfriend. I'm married though, so she will have to keep her hands off me.

    8. Senior Member F1_Fan's Avatar
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      04-05-2012 05:33 PM #8
      1) Start audio recording app on smartphone (mine will run for hours, maybe even days before it fills the memory)
      2) Leave phone on desk
      3) Profit
      There's always money in the banana stand.

    9. Senior Member 6cylVWguy's Avatar
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      04-05-2012 06:43 PM #9
      I don't have any personal experience on this topic one way or the other, but documentation combined with tactfully telling the boss you don't feel terribly comfortable with the direction his comments are moving seems the most logical.

      Folks in power usually don't just end up there by luck. If you don't say anything to the guy, he's going to keep doing it until things become really ugly---either for him or your friend.

    10. Junior Member FancyMan's Avatar
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      04-08-2012 08:20 AM #10
      Often I am sexy harass.

      Some very good, some very bad.

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